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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Solar Power project gets private funding

$1B-plus solar power project gets private funding:

A California-based solar company announced Wednesday that it has lined up enough private financing to begin what it says will be the largest residential solar photovoltaic project in U.S. history -- powering as many as 120,000 military housing units.

SolarCity sought a loan guarantee last year from the U.S. Department of Energy to finance part of its five-year, $1 billion-plus plan to install, own and operate rooftop solar panels for privatized U.S. military housing communities nationwide.

DOE offered a conditional commitment Sept. 7 but couldn't finalize the loan before its 1705 program expired Sept. 30. The DOE program has been scrutinized after lending a half-billion dollars to now bankrupt solar manufacturer Solyndra.

SolarCity, based in San Mateo, Calif., didn't give up. It continued to work with the Bank of America Merrill Lynch to attract private investors for its SolarStrong project, receiving advice from equity firm US Renewables Group.

"This is uncharted territory for residential solar. The fact that SolarStrong can move forward without a federal loan guarantee is a clear indication that long-term incentives such as the investment tax credit are working," said Lyndon Rive,  CEO of SolarCity, in co-announcing the terms of the financing with BofA Merrill.

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Rive expects the project to create thousands of temporary and full-time jobs, allow privatized military housing developers to save money on energy costs and help the U.S. Department of Defense—the single-largest energy consumer in the U.S.—secure more of its energy needs from renewable sources.

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